An old colleague of mine recently passed away from cancer.
I was so taken aback when I learned he passed away. I was certain he’d be fine after treatment. I never realized how bad it was.
I’ve been so overwhelmed with emotion. Rage, mostly. I’m so angry that cancer still steals lives. After finding out, I cried for days. I haven’t seen him since I worked for the Jets, but always kept in touch through his weekly “Go Jets!” emails during football season and his fun Facebook posts…and of course, I could always expect an e-card on my birthday. But still, I felt like I couldn’t stop crying. I feel so much sadness for his family and wonderful wife, because even though I didn’t see them much over the past few years, they seemed to be more in love than just about anyone I’ve ever known. And their smiles were always wide, their positivity always abundant. It hurts my heart.
I can’t take it.
For the previous few weeks, I had been researching charities to run the NYC Marathon with. I’ve raised money for LLS 3x in the past and debated supporting someone different this time around. There are so many options. I wanted to support a friend who works for a charity. I also thought about supporting a charity that gives kids access to running and fitness opportunities, because these types of opportunities changed my life and I believe it’s so important to keep kids active. I wanted to support an animal-based charity because animals need a voice too. But this was a huge push to once again raise money for cancer research, so I began researching all the cancer-related non-profits. Where the money goes is so important to me, so I studied their websites like crazy, looking up margins and ratings and info on all the different programs.
And then, I was watching Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies on PBS. Crying my eyes out for the majority of the program, once again. When Dr. Brian Druker, an LLS-supported researcher/oncologist appeared on the screen, I gasped. I’m not sure why it surprised me, because his contributions are definitely well known in the cancer research realm. He might not be your typical household name, but working at LLS it was. He’s a big deal. I was reminded how knowledgeable LLS is at funding the right research projects and how much good has come from funded research. Case in point: An oral chemotherapy called “Gleevec” was driven by Dr. Druker and took the survival rate of a certain type of leukemia from 50% to 90%. If you’re interested in his work, here’s a video:
And I know these cures that start with blood cancers are helping patients with other cancers, too. Research fascinates me. And if you need a little hope, it helps knowing there’s promise.
This one with Dr. June (another incredible oncologist) is the most ground-breaking of all. If you don’t watch the other video, watch this one at least.
(And here Emily is today.)
SO, there I was again, wondering what the F I’m doing sitting around doing nothing but complaining about it. I know people hate getting asked for money. Some people love to hate on charity runners. Others think it’s not worth it. Once, a guy told me that if a treatment saved one life, it wasn’t worth the investment. He only wanted to donate if I could tell him it would save X number of lives and compared it to malaria nets, a tangible item that you can count and know how many people are benefitting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if we can even attempt to save ONE LIFE, I say let’s do it. You never know whose life that might be. And I want my family, even if it’s 50 years from now, to have a better shot at living cancer-free.
I guess you understand what I’m getting it. My goal is to run the NYC Marathon this year (and go SUB-4 AHHHH) and I’m officially signed up. I also want to make another tiny little dent in the fight against cancer, so I’ll be fundraising yet again with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If (WHEN!) I reach my first goal of $3,500, I will have personally raised over $20,000 in total (since 2008) for LLS, thanks to extremely generous family, friends, and strangers. THANK YOU. I hope you know how humbled and grateful I am for your past support of this very important mission.
I still struggle with the “asking people for money” part of fundraising at times, but I remind myself that the money isn’t for me and it’s going to help someone who needs it. And if I’m running this much and this far, I need to use it for something positive. And hey, I don’t expect anyone’s support. Anyone can just say “no, leave me alone”. I won’t be mad. I totally get it.
Regardless, I’ll be on Staten Island on November 1st ready to race my heart out. (OH AND PS I’LL BE AN OLD MARRIED LADY BY THEN! CA-RAZY.) I hope that by the end of that day, at least one person is inspired or hopeful or just smiles because they know there’s a whole bunch of people out there trying to help.
…and if you want to join me in the race, I won’t be mad. Just saying.